“When we urge others to live a healthy living we forget our responsibility to live one too!”
If you are from a city and if you have better facilities for toilets, you use them. But as a villager what would you do if you don’t have toilets around you?
Build a new one? But what about those who have no financial capability? They end up walking into farms or secluded places.
India has one of the highest rates of open defecation. According to the latest census data, 636 million Indians lack toilets, leading to disease, loss of economic output, childhood malnutrition, and even rape cases.
Deshpande Foundation’s Leaders Accelerating Development (LEAD) Program highlights the achievements of Deepika, an ordinary girl from the women’s college in Chikodi, Karnataka. She created an amazing movement towards a healthy India.
One day when she was passing by a village called, Jainapur, she saw many people walking with a bucket of water to the farms for urination. When she asked a villager, his embarrassed reply was, “It’s not that we aren’t bothered about nature and surrounding, but we are helpless because we don’t have toilets at home nor do we have the finance to build one.”
Deepika was speechless and had no instant solution for it.
The villager’s reply made her think more and made her restless enough that she came up with an idea. Without much delay, she approached the government officials and let them know that in spite of all the major initiatives by the government, the village still lacked basic sanitation and toilets.
She studied the conditions and approximated the number of toilets needed. With the co-operation of government officials, she set up for a “Swacch Bharat” motive in the village focusing on building toilets in every house in the village.
Deepika with her colleagues and friends visited all the houses in the village and personally explained to them how important it is to have toilets and how this would help the villagers improve their lives. She felt pain at the tears of an old man as he expressed that they were not financially stable and so they faced latrine problems every day. She stepped up with a solution for providing them loans for building toilets.
A villager was quoted as saying, “If such young buds can teach the experienced villagers this much-needed knowledge of building good toilets, basic sanitation at the village level, then our respected PM’s motto of “Swacch Bharat” will have the best progress ever”. He added, “We have got freedom from the British, but it’s time we also gain freedom from the unhygienic life we all lead here.”
Blessed with the good wishes and motivation, Deepika became the superwoman of the village by building almost 250 toilets in the village. She received unconditional gratitude from the villagers for this great venture.
She was given an award by Malathi Holla, an internationally- renowned Indian para-athlete, at Yuva Summit 2016 for her enthusiasm and spirit for the betterment of society.